John O' Groat Journal headlines for March 29, 2013

THE
controversial bedroom tax is set to cause chaos in Caithness, given that there are only five council and housing association one-bedroom homes, available to tenants of working age. Housing staff in the county fear the tax – part of new welfare reforms, taking effect from Monday – will put some tenants in an impossible position and lead to homelessness and add cost to the public purse. One dubbed the new rules on housing occupancy “a regressive step”.

CAITHNESS
is in danger of losing a couple of its well-known summer public amenities, if private operators are not found for them. The Rosebank playing fields in Wick and the boating pond in Thurso’s Millbank area, will close, if attempts to find interest in taking over their running, draw a blank.
THE cost involved in the running the Caithness and Sutherland area committee is “an expense we can’t afford”. That is the damning verdict of local Landward Caithness councillor, Willie Mackay who claims the committee has been a failure and will only survive if it gets real powers.

A BEREAVED
Wick father is refusing to accept an apology from police, after he was reimbursed for the 500 it cost him to receive a copy of the report into the car crash which claimed the life of his 17-year-old son. While Northern Constabulary has stage a U-turn on the charge, George Durrand is pressing for an assurance that no other grieving family in Scotland will have to stump up, to get a copy of an accident report.

The
national company behind the project to build three schools in Wick, is looking to create 400 jobs over the next two years. And Miller Construction has pledged it will look to employ the majority of its workforce from the far north as part of its deal with Hub North Scotland, the public/private joint venture company.

A SUBSEA
engineer with Caithness roots, is to take charge of the installation of the first electricity-generating tidal turbine in the Pentland Firth, next year. Ruper Raymond whose great grandfather came from John O’ Groats, has been appointed the lead installation with Andritz Hydro Hammerfest. The company will be supplying the first turbine to go into the water at the MeyGen tidal project in the Inner Sound, during the second half of 2014.

THOUSANDS
of people are expected to converge on Halkirk this weekend with the return of the Northern Nashville Caithness Country Music Festival. The festival, again being staged in the indoor riding centre at Halkirk, will see artistes from all over the world including America, Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands along with local acts.

THE
Scorries were knocked off their perch at the top of the Highland League after a controversial Gordon Morrison goal meant Academy drop to second. Cover Rangers’ 7-0 demolition of Inverurie Locos meant the Aberdeen side regain pole position in the race for the title with a game in hand on Wick.